Thursday, October 04, 2007

Back from Acadia

That's our well-traveled L.L.Bean moose waving to you from Cadillac Mountain in Maine. While we're happy to be home, we had one of the most relaxing vacations yet. It was good to travel with only a loose agenda. John and I were in Acadia two Septembers ago, so we had hiked and biked quite a bit of the park already. Our mission was to see places we hadn't seen before and do things we hadn't done before. We succeeded in that mission.

First, let me say that our journey north from New Jersey was a bit extreme. We left home at 5 pm with a goal of reaching Freeport, ME (home of L.L. Bean's flagship store which never closes its doors) by 2 am. Stopping only to use gas station or rest stop restrooms and to fill the Subaru's gas tank, we reached Freeport not long after midnight. We ate sparsely -- John had a small turkey sandwich I'd packed him earlier, and I had a Nectar bar.

As we did last year, we traveled with a cooler that can be plugged into a car lighter outlet as well as a wall socket. This was filled with food for the week. What we now know is that we didn't need the cooler or the food. There's a large grocery store located not far from where we stayed in Southwest Harbor.

After we shopped a bit in Bean (good deals on a few items), we were both exhausted, so we slept in the car until about 4 am. Achy and still groggy, we put on our shoes and trudged into the L.L. Bean hunting and fishing store to see if they had anything John wanted (he's a fly fisherman) and to use their uber-clean restrooms. We used the restrooms in every L.L. Bean store except the bike and ski store (new since the last time we were there). We also learned that the outlet store is moving to the location of the current hunting and fishing store and will be open 24-hours. Bean is building a new facility with access to the flagship store for the hunting and fishing store. They're really taking over the town.

Our first meal in Maine was breakfast at Friendly's. Have you ever eaten at a Friendly's restaurant? It reminds me of Denny's but the food isn't as good. But the service was fine, especially first thing in the morning.

We took our time dining, but it was still to early to shop anywhere else (Bean's outlet store currently opens at 9 am), so we napped in the outlet parking lot. When we awoke, the parking lot was PACKED with people. It was scary. It seemed fights could break out any second as the crowds squeezed themselves into the outlet store. We found great deals and scooted out of there quickly, stopping at the great health food store down the road for some Cascade Fresh fat-free yogurt (you must try it!).

Most of our shopping after Freeport was spent in Bar Harbor and other coastal towns looking for a wren-friendly birdhouse for my step-father, Dave. I'll have to post a photo of the one we found because it's hilarious.

There are many outlet (and pricey) stores in Freeport, but probably some of the best deals are at the Bean outlet and Patagonia. The Acorn shoe outlet also is worth a stop. I found a great pair of shoes for $30.

After fulfilling our shopping quotient for Freeport, we drove the scenic route (until we tired of it) -- Rt. 1. Had we taken 1 the entire way, it would have added 5 more hours on to our trip. John wasn't having it, so we switched to Rt. 17 in Rockland. Then, we took Rt. 131, which was far more scenic than 1, until it hit Rt. 3 in Belfast. We cut a lot of our trip to Ellsworth that way and arrived at Acadia Cabins at Sundown.

Along Rt. 1, we stopped at an unremarkable seaside restaurant in Damariscotta with this view:

No, you're not seeing things, this is the overcast view through a screen and plastic sheeting. John had the fish and chips, which made him sick later. I had a pretty lame, overpriced lobster roll that was simply cold lobster (not very fresh tasting, either) piled on a toasted roll with a side of mayo. It wasn't worth a photo, so I didn't take one.

Walking along the small town's streets, we stepped into several of its stores. Lucky me! I found a pair of very soft leather gloves with cashmere lining for 50% off ($24)! Now, if it would only get cold out (it's over 80 degrees F today).

We quickly returned to our car because it had turned blustery and gray. When we arrived in Ellsworth, we stopped in the L.L. Bean outlet store (of course!) and left with several items. (By the way, if you want to know the complete list of items we purchased, let me know in the comments.)

When we arrived at our cabin, the lights and the heat were on (it had gotten chilly up there). We unpacked and settled in for the week.

On Sunday, we had a late start from sleeping in. We eventually drove to the other side of the island to buy a park pass from the visitor's center. Our plan was to drive the Park Loop road, take advantage of the great weather and snap photos along the way, especially from the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

Each day, on our way to the park, we passed through a number of towns, but one of the most lovely is Somesville.

All the houses are white with black or dark green shutters.

When we finally got to the park, we took many photos from the pull-outs along the Park Loop road.

There was a constant flow of cruise ships stopping near Bar Harbor and letting off passengers to sightsee and eat at the restaurants.

Above is the view of Eagle Lake. Last time we were there, we biked around it.

Above is a view from Cadillac Mountain summit. We were truly blessed with gorgeous weather. It was filled with tourists.

For the first few days, we had a lot of fun posing our little animals for photos. I'm sure we received a few stares. We didn't care a bit. We just laughed and laughed.

Above is a view of Bar Harbor and its surrounding islands. During low tide, we wanted to hike out to Bar Island, but we'll just have to save that for another trip.

After we came down off the mountain, we had a bit of time before dinner, so we drove down to Otter Point to walk the Ocean Path.

That's Bart. He was pointing back to the car. We went the other way to see Otter Cliff.

A quite accommodating butterfly.

We didn't see a lot of wildlife -- birds, ground squirrels and butterflies. Oh, and crows.

When we finished the little hike, we headed off to Bar Harbor. In town, you can take a wee hike on the Shore Path that runs along the shoreline.

Eventually, we had dinner at Cafe This Way.

We opened with the Maine seafood spring rolls, which I enjoyed. John thought they were rather bland.

Below is my delicious pecan-crusted halibut served over garlicky shrimp with mashed potatoes, asparagus and sweet potatoes (the best part). Topping the halibut is a cajun sauce that reminded me of a very spicy mayonnaise. Regardless, I was very happy with this dinner.

John wasn't happy with his meal. His beef was undercooked for his liking, and they had overcooked the asparagus. It's unfortunate -- most of the times when I really like my meal, John doesn't like his. The opposite is true as well. Our last meal out at Top of the Hill in Southwest Harbor, John had his best meal and I probably had my worst. Oh well.

I have many more photos and stories to share about our trip, but instead of including it all here, I'd like to invite you to visit my Picasa Web Album of the trip.

Nearly all the photos have captions, so you'll be able to follow the flow of our trip, biking and hiking the miles and miles of carriage roads in Acadia National Park and on Mount Desert Island. I encourage you to visit the park and Maine, if you haven't already. The state is beautiful and the people are friendly.

Until the next time, we'll be trying to find somewhere interesting to bike in New Jersey.


Martha said...

We're leaving in about 6 hours - guess I should get to bed! If the weather is even half as beautiful, we should be looking at a fantastic weekend!

(We already have a table booked at Cafe This Way. Woohoo!)

Deb Schiff said...

Hey Martha,
Hope you have a great trip and enjoy Cafe This Way. We got there early without a reservation, and there were plenty of open tables.